Understanding food science

In Featured Posts by Prof8 Comments

As noted in class, ensuring that students, from K-12 to college, are science-literate is now recognized as one of the more important missions of our schools and universities.  Given all the issues we’ve discussed this semester, a list that includes organic foods, GMOs, food safety, obesity, and allergens, one can argue that food science literacy is particularly important.

Indeed, so important is this topic that the prestigious U.S. National Academy of Sciences convened a workshop in Fall 2015 to address Food Literacy.  The proceedings (down-loadable for free) were then published earlier this year.

There were plenty of opinions on how to promote food literacy, from childhood education to training physicians.  Perhaps one of the main challenges was stated by one author as “how to deliver knowledge to people whose lives are too busy for them to take on any more chores”.

Credible food-in-the-news stories are published every day on-line and in print newspapers and magazines.  Yet the number of people who actually read those articles is probably a small percent of those that read or “hear about” what the Food Babe has to say.  This is the challenge in a nutshell.


ProfUnderstanding food science


  1. Luke

    in my opinion, the problem with food science literacy or science literacy in general is that scientists use grammar that makes perfect sense to the but just looks like a jumbled mess to everyone else. there needs to be a balance between the scientific community making their papers a bit more understandable but the general population also should be responsible for learning how to read the papers better and also should become more active in the scientific field in general.

  2. Jennifer

    I think the last paragraph of this article really hits the nail directly on the head. There are so many people that believe what so-called experts such as Dr. Oz or Vani Hari (Food Babe) have to say about food instead of listening to the real food science experts that its truly an uphill battle. How can a professional with a PhD in Food Science or Meat Science even begin to compete with a charismatic, family-oriented medical doctor with their own TV show and endorsement by Oprah? Its honestly sad, but people trust and believe a lot of what they see on TV or the internet, so until we learn how to cure the illness of being gullible or somehow convince people to check facts, I don’t think we can make any significant strides in science literacy. But then again, I think about how greed and money really influence everything that the Food Babe and Dr. Oz have to say, so maybe if we paid them enough they would start to promote actual science instead of pseudoscience.

  3. Shane

    Introducing food science literacy sound like an interesting idea to introduce to k-12 grade. This could possibly spark an interest in nutrition that could help kids be more aware of what they eat which could possibly help with the obesity epidemic. Not only could it help with this, it could also spark other interest for young kids such as food science or other subject dealing with food.

  4. Yijun

    I think it will be hard to let the k-12 to college students have a food literacy because there might have too much knowledge they need to learn during the study time. However, if the mission complete that will be very helpful. People could know more about the GMO, obesity and other food issues. Then they will not be so antipathy about eating GMO or know how to prevent the obesity. Actually I think the project can success in the future.

  5. Lauren

    I am so, so, so passionate about consumer education. It is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I love agriculture and farmers and ranchers, food scientists, the meat industry, etc all deserve to have their stories heard and understood by everyone because everyone is impacted by what they do. I completely agree with several of these comments and what was said in this post. It’s so unfortunate that some people will believe someone like Food Babe over a scientist who spent years gaining the knowledge to create safe food or a farmer who really cares about what he does, the environment and the animals that he cares for.
    I think that it is important to start in the k-12 schools because if they learn right away what food is, where it comes from, what the processes are, and how to understand food literacy in general, it will carry with them throughout their lives into adulthood where they can make educated decisions in their food and teach others what they learned as well. I think it’s equally important to create a general education class for incoming freshman in college to have to take a food course to gain the knowledge through the right sources rather than a blogger.

    1. Author

      Most food scientists do not have the same appeal as Food Babe, who speaks in a language everyone an understand. Indeed, she is the anti-scientist!

  6. Lucas

    The most successful tool to nationally reduce smoking and drug use is education. Since our generation has been educated early on the harmful effects of smoking, compared to previous generations, smoking is the lowest it has ever been for young people. If the school system would take educating about food and what we should eat as serious as smoking, the results could be incredible. Learning about food from a scientific standpoint early, could create later generations with much more knowledge than we have now. Maybe even solve the world hunger problem?

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